Oct. 16, 2013
AMHERST, Mass. -
University of Massachusetts football head coach Charley Molnar spoke with members of the media during the weekly MAC Teleconference on Monday morning. Molnar discussed the several key individual performances in the win over Miami (Ohio), what the staff took away from last year's game vs. Buffalo, the consistent play of the offensive line, and how teams scheme against a player like Buffalo's Khalil Mack.
Molnar On The Win Over Miami:
I'm so proud of this group of guys; not only the way they played on Saturday, but really the way they prepared during game week and the way they have stayed together through some challenging times. I think a big part of our success was our team leadership during the week which was absolutely outstanding. Our captain Rob Blanchflower and our game captains Brandon Potvin and Shane Huber really kept the team focused throughout our preparations leading into the Miami game.
Whenever you win a game, it's a little bit easier to pick out some outstanding performances. Starting with the defense, and I said the same thing a week ago that I'm going to say today, we have two guys who come to play every single week and they are super prepared and motivated to play their very best. That would be Stanley Andre who led the team with 14 tackles and Devin Brown who had seven. We also had Khary Bailey-Smith who just did a fantastic job of stepping up - I spoke last week about our `Next Man Up' approach and how every week we count on someone to fill in a gap for us and he did that. Khary came in when we lost [Antoine Tharpe] to an ejection late in the second quarter. He ended up with two interceptions and 10 tackles which isn't bad for about half-a-day's work. He was just a guy who was focused when his name was called and was ready to go. We also had another good week in a row from Justin Anderson who had a sack and two TFL's being a force on the edge like we knew he would.
Offensively I thought A.J. Doyle
made a step forward at quarterback throwing for 249 yards and two touchdowns - one of his better days as a Minuteman. Jamal Wilson
for two weeks in a row has just proven that he is a steady running back and has become a real big part of our offense now. He's almost irreplaceable because he does so many jobs so well for us - it is becoming hard to imagine him not being a part of the offense now.
Molnar On What He Took From Playing Buffalo Last Year:
First, our team has more experience now than it did a year ago. We were new at `that winning thing' after last year after Akron. We knew last year when we went into the Buffalo game following Akron that we still had a lot of work to do. We started off fast last year against Buffalo and had a lead going into halftime and through most of the third quarter. We did wear down in the game; we didn't have the depth that we have today and we didn't have the experience we have today. Those two things are just matters of your team maturing over time. We still have a ways to go from a maturity and depth standpoint, but we are in a better position today than we were a year ago at this time.
Molnar On The Consistency Of The Offensive Line:
The group is starting to gel much the way that we hoped it would. We still roll some different guys in there, but at the end of the day, there are five or six guys who have been pretty solid for us, if not spectacular. I like the way they play - they are tough, they are assignment sound, it's not always pretty, but they get the job done. Last year at this time, it was a real farrago of offensive linemen every week where it changed. We had to plug guys into so many different spots last year, that we laugh a bit when we re-watch the tapes because we just had to use guys in so many different areas. We're in a better position this year and we are stronger overall which has allowed us to stay healthier during the course of the season.
Molnar On The Decision To Attempt A 54-Yard Field Goal Vs. Miami:
I have a lot of confidence in Blake Lucas. I see his range every day in practice and he can consistently hit in that mid-50s range - every single week, a couple of times a week. On that particular kick, he had the distance, he was just off. The shorter kick that he missed (44 yards) was the one that he had the accuracy, but he was just short on the distance. I have confidence in Blake, I think he has confidence in himself and his teammates certainly have confidence in him.
As far as the decision for the attempt, it was 4th-and-6 and the odds of converting the down weren't great. A pooch punt wouldn't have turned the field well for us if it went into the endzone. We felt like we just needed to get points on the board and that's what it really boiled down to as we felt like we could make the kick.
Molnar On The Challenge Buffalo Linebacker Khalil Mack Poses:
It's the same challenge everybody has going into a game against him. We were watching Ohio State this morning and they put a tight end on him at times and he just totally whipped him right off the ball. A lot of teams put an offensive lineman and a running back on him. When you do those things, you open up 1-on-1 match-ups somewhere else along the line. Last year we did that and some plays we were able to neutralize him, but then No. 40 was able to eat up our tackles in 1-on-1 situations. You have to pick-and-choose on how you are going to try to control him - not that anybody has been able to control him very well. We've watched him split double teams and make the tackle for loss. We've watched people try to cut block him and he plays off that, intercepts the ball and returns it for a touchdown. It's going to take all of our attention for the next several days trying to figure out ways we can slow him down.